Photo via Gage Skidmore
Even though it’s illegal to sell cannabis in Washington D.C., canna-businesses have been taking advantage of a legal loophole in order to sell some of their popular product for years now. The Metropolitan Police Department initially allowed the grey market to operate with little interference, but has recently been ramping up efforts to crack down on the city’s cannabis “gifting economy.”
The district’s voters approved Initiative 71 back in 2014, which legalized adult use, possession, and home cultivation of cannabis, but still doesn’t allow retail sales. The law does permit an adult to give cannabis as a gift to another adult, however — a provision which some canny entrepreneurs have been using as a loophole to sell marijuana. Several new companies quickly sprang up to meet the demand for legal weed, offering “free gifts” of cannabis to anyone who made a donation to their business.
In addition to businesses offering “free” weed for pickup or home delivery to individuals, a number of cannabis “gifting” events began to appear around the city. Vendors at these events hawk a variety of items, including baseball cards, t-shirts, comic books, or stickers — but every item is accompanied by a side of cannabis. These events were initially held in secret, but promoters gradually grew more bold, and today you can find a publicly-advertised marijuana gifting event almost any day of the week.
“In the beginning, we were very discreet,” a D.C. cannabis entrepreneur known only as Mangani told WAMU. “The events would bounce around. You had to be in the cannabis community to even know that an event was going on.” Now, although some of these events remain discreet, several are advertised openly on social media. Several of these events even offer public consumption options, like free dab bars, which is